LEYTE: Gov’t troops abort NPA meeting

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REGIONAL

TACLOBAN CITY — Soldiers from the Philippine Army’s 802nd brigade seized rifles, bullets, other war materials, and subversive documents after a 30-minute clash with members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in a remote village in Calubian, Leyte early Thursday.
Army 802nd brigade commander Brig. Gen. Lope Dagoy said in a press briefing in Ormoc City that the clash aborted a bi-annual meeting around 6 a.m. in Anislagan village attended by 20 communist rebels.
The meeting was reportedly led by NPA Leyte front leader Geronimo Maceda.
“This is alarming because they’re able to hold a meeting within a community and their shanties are just near the residential area. It is sad that the village chief also attended the meeting. His involvement is betrayal and not acceptable,” Dagoy told reporters.
Acting on intelligence report, two platoons under the 93rd and 78th Infantry Battalions raided the village and engaged the rebels in a gun battle. No one was hurt on the military side while the number of casualties on the enemy side is still undetermined.
Also recovered were mobile phones, tablets, food items, and several personal belongings of rebels.
“They are trying to retake control of the third district because they used to collect a lot of revolutionary taxes. The NPA front here had collapsed in 2005 after an intensified insurgency campaign,” Dagoy added.
Dagoy is largely counting on information from villagers to further strengthen his unit’s fight against the communist rebels in Leyte province. He said locals play a big role in combating insurgency as they are able to observe suspicious-looking people in their communities.
He urged NPA members to lay down their arms and avail of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).
Under E-CLIP, each former rebel will receive a total of PHP65,000, of which, PHP15,000 is immediate financial assistance while PHP50,000 will be given as livelihood aid.
The surrenderers will also receive additional financial assistance in exchange for the firearms they bring in, depending on the valuation of weapons. The amount ranges from PHP2,000 to PHP2 million.
E-CLIP seeks to contribute towards achieving permanent and peaceful closure of all armed conflicts with non-state groups, as well as facilitate the mainstreaming of former rebels as productive citizens. (PNA)

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